Top critical review
14 people found this helpful
Better guides are out there
on February 4, 2006
I am so glad I dodn't actually fork over the money for this book! I, too, found it at the library. And back it will go tomorrow!
If this is the first book you have ever read on how to discpline your children, perhaps the discpline techniques he advocates would seem wonderful or miraculous. If you have no idea what to do with your kids, and your parents' example didin't inspire you, maybe this book is a good starting point. But personally I found it over-simplified in its concepts, and too wordy on the wrong subjects. For example, he claims that star charts as a rewards mechanism always work. There is, however, quite a bit of evidence that they don't actually work well in the long run; that it is far better to get your child to want to do a certain behaviour, rather than just do it to get a little star (or whatever the reward is). He cites animal training techniques for inspiration. Having experience with dolphin training in particular, I have to tell you that the dolphins get lazy if you reward good behavior every single time they do it. The trick, I was told, is not so much in getting the dolphin to do the behaviour. The trick is to get them to WANT to do the behaviour. And we are talking about children here, not animals. Kids are often capable of a lot more than we gie them credit for, unlike most animals I've worked with. The author also simplistically tells the reader that positive reinforcement always works. I am not in any way advocating negative reinforcement, and this is perhaps one of the few points on which we agree. But I feel that making a statement like that is just too cut and dry. Is there anything in this world that ALWAYS works?
Furthermore, I found each of the age-related sections of this book way too airy. The section on 4-8 year olds had almost nothing to say at all. Since I have a 4 1/2 year old, and another one on the way, I was thoroughly disappointed! I wanted to know about physiological changes that occur during the age ranges he mentions, as well as emotional adjustments they are starting to make. These sections were woefully inadequate. I also wanted real-life examples of how his techniques have specifically worked for families. But perhaps this was my fault. I was too bored (to tears)to read any further, and may have missed a story or two in there, somehwere.
For a far better, more concise, more practical and much more pleasureable read, try Michael Green's "Beyond Toddlerdom", the follow-up book to "Toddler Taming". His common sense, good humour, and down-to-earth style make for inspiring as well as practical reading.
Funnily enough, the best books I have read on parenting aren't actually about parenting at all. Get your hands on anything by John Holt (especially "How Children Learn" and "How Children Fail") for a far better insight into what motivates children at what age. It's all very well to have a few tricks in the bag on how to punish children, but it means nothing unless you try to understand why they do what they do first. Holt's in depth observations of kids' behaviour opened up a world of insight into children for me in a way that no book specifically dedicated to parenting ever has. Holt's books are especially useful if you have problems in relation to your child's schooling and susequent behavior at home.
Hopefully you don't accept the first quote you get when you need to get something fixed, right? In my opinon, the same goes for raising children. Keep in mind that it may be in your and your child's best interests to check out other opinions on discpline apart from this guy's.